COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus’s top doctor said that in this past year and a half, research shows many people have been avoiding health checkups, which is why her team wants others to know about Columbus Public Health’s HIV/STI unit to help tackle the uptick in sexually transmitted diseases in the area.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said the mobile unit will be in places with visible crowds like bars, restaurants, and festivals. She wants to make the unit known and available within sight, especially in places where healthcare may be limited.

Roberts said the mobile unit has been available for a while, but due to the pandemic, they couldn’t use it.

“One of the things we wanted to have this van for is events like PRIDE festival,” Roberts said. “We couldn’t use it as soon as we got it because of some of the shutdowns that happened and some of the events that we would use it weren’t taking place.”

However, with the mask restrictions lifted, it’s all changed and in a timely manner.

“Columbus and Franklin County has seen our rates in HIV go up over the last several months,” she said.

She wants others to know this mobile unit also provides more than just HIV exams; it performs checks for syphilis, chlamydia, and other diseases.

“If you do want to get tested, you can always come to CPH to get tested and look for us at different events that will cater to the population who is at high-risk — our youth, our college-aged students, that’s where you’ll see our van out and about, at different events like that,” she said.

The unit will be at the African American Male Wellness Walk in August.